At some point in time, there is darkness all around. Alex “Havok” Summers thinks: ‘They’ll tell you it was unavoidable. Even if the mutants had been there to help. It was not unavoidable, Katie. We brought it on ourselves’.
He recalls a time when he was entrusted to ensure unity - but they were anything but united, and he owes it to his comrades to continue looking for a solution. ’Should your mother and I fail in our mission - they will kill us. They’ll tell you lies. Tell you there is no hope. My dear daughter, if you remember nothing else that I’ve taught you, remember this. There is always hope’.
Now, on Earth: ‘Calm down, citizens! Have some faith! The Avengers have a plan!’ the Superior Spider-Man calls out as he, Iron Fist and Daredevil are in New York, civilians rush past them in a panic. ‘Can’t blame ‘em, Spidey… this time does feel different’ Iron Fist remarks, looking to the sky.
Up at Stark Tower, the Hulk, Hank Pym, Iron Man, the Vision and Dr Doom are working together. A large device has been constructed, while many monitors and computer panels are hooked up to it. Iron Man remarks that Doom’s force field was never intended to encompass this kind of space, so the only way it is going to hold is if the Hulk can keep the electromagnetic anchors in place. ‘Fate of the world and all of that, okay?’ Iron Man adds, while the Hulk stands in the middle of the contraption projecting the force field, holding two parts of it together. ‘Who’s the strongest one there is?’ Iron Man asks. ‘Hulk can hold. Just don’t make Hulk listen to puny Stark explain’ the Hulk declares. ‘Figured that might angry up the blood a bit and - my God… he’s coming’ Iron Man utters, looking to the sky, which glows orange.
At the same time, several heroes who can breathe in space are flying with purpose - Dr Strange, Captain Britain, Iron Patriot, Hyperion and Air-Walker are at the front of the group, as Iron Man radios Dr Strange, informing him that they need a few more minutes to complete this time. ‘Can your team buy us some time?’ he asks. ‘By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, we’ll do our best, Iron Man’ Strange responds as he and the others arrive where the Celestial Exitar the Executioner has positioned himself over the planet Earth. ‘Yet even if this works, even if we can temporarily hold back his descent… can even Thor call this Celestial executioner off?’ Dr Strange wonders.
Deeper in space, just beyond the Apocalypse Ark. ‘My eyes are blind - but I can see!’ Eimin, one of the Apocalypse Twins declares as she slams the axe Jarnbjorn against Thor’s mighty hammer, Mjolnir. She then extends one of her wings, shoving it into Thor, he reels backwards. ‘I foresaw you slay my brother, Thor - yet moved forward regardless. I loved him more than life itself - but hate Kang so much more!’ Raising the axe over her head, she declares ‘Hatred bright enough that I gave my own brother to death’s cold slumber’.
Thor tells Eimin not to fret, and flying forward, he slams into her, ‘You will join him soon enough’ he warns her. Thor pushes Eimin hard enough that they burst back into the Apocalypse Ark, and when they hit the floor, Eimin drops the axe. They both get to their feet, and Eimin asks Thor if it is painful to see the solution to his woes so close at hand. ‘If only you could brandish Jarnbjorn, you could kill the Executioner and save Earth!’ she points out. ‘I shall!’ Thor declares, flying forward, while Eiumin releases some of her acid balls and tells Thor that, try as he might, it is futile, for even if he could reclaim Jarnbjorn, Earth’s fate lies in the hands of another.
Elsewhere, ‘C’MON - hurry, Wasp! Time’s short! Get to it! Release me from this nightmare and save the world!’ Eric Williams a.k.a. the Grim Reaper goads Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, as he holds her hand to his neck. The Grim Reaper tells the Wasp that here it is - the hard line she judges Wolverine so harshly for. ‘Make the choice! Compromise your ethics or lose everything!’ But the Wasp replies that she will find another way, and tells the Reaper that she won’t kill him. ‘Then you’ve already lost, insect’ the Grim Reaper declares, tossing the Wasp backwards, he then holds his ionic-scythe to her, ‘All for some pious ideology - some imagined relevance! How can mercy be the right choice - if it ends if in so much death?’ he asks.
Back on Earth, Dr Doom announces that it is complete as he stands by a computer console. ‘Are you ready, you mindless brute?’ he asks the Hulk, who tells him to shut up. ‘Of course. But do try to stay angry…the fate of the world rests on your idiot shoulders’ The Hulk roars as he holds the magnets in place, and in space, Dr Strange goes wide-eyed, and reports to Iron Man that it is working. ‘The field is holding!’ he announces as he looks on, and sees Exitar’s foot unable to press down on the Earth, as a large electromagnetic field comes between his foot and the planet. ‘All right, Thor. WE bought you some time. Now do us all a big favor… and save the world’ Iron Man utters.
Thor throws his hammer, ‘Your wicked premonitions will not come to pass!’ he tells Eimin, who ducks, dodging the hammer. ‘I will commune with Exitar. Explain that this is not the work of mankind - but of monsters in our midst’ Thor declares, as the hammer strikes a beam behind Eimin, causing the level above her to collapse - right on top of her, trapping her body in the rubble. Thor walks over to the Janbjorn axe, Eimin’s motionless arm is sticking out of the rubble, as Thor declares that if the Celestial will not listen to reason, then he will fell him.
At Stark Tower, energy surrounds the Hulk as he continues to hold the magnets in place. The Vision tells him that he is doing wonderfully. ‘I can only imagine the strain. Please, you must hold -’ he begins, while Iron Man suddenly reports that they have a fracture. He announces that he will seal the crack, and he fires a beam of energy into the equipment - but suddenly, the top of Stark Tower explodes!
And at the same time, the force field surrounding the Earth vanishes, and Exitar’s feet start to sink down into the planet.
‘You hear that? It’s happening. The lady Eimin - she sees the future through music. We’re all just going through the motions here’ the Grim Reaper tells the Wasp, maintaining his scythe at the heroine’s neck, he promises her that unless she can change the game, unless she can kill him, Earth is done for. The Wasp listens to the old Avengers’ foe, who glares at her and remarks that he doesn’t think she could choose to kill him if she wanted to. ‘Can dance if you don’t know the moves’ he points out. Suddenly, ‘It’s true -’ a voice calls out, as Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America leaps at the Grim Reaper, ‘Mind if I step in for the lady?’ he asks, kicking the Grim Reaper in the face. ‘Destroy the tachyon dam! I’ve got Reaper!’ Captain America instructs the Wasp, as the Grim Reaper gathers himself and rushes towards Captain America, he tells him that he has nothing. ‘Big fat zero!’ the Grim Reaper declares as his ionic scythe slams against Captain America’s shield, while the Wasp’s bio-sting is fired into the tachyon dam.
Thor hovers before Exitar, ‘Hear me! You play into the hands of a vile fiend! Turn back! Mankind shall not be erased due to the actions of a few madmen!’ Thor calls out to the Celestial, but gets no response as the cosmic being is now ankle-deep in the Earth. ‘They aren’t listening, God of Thunder!’ Eimin exclaims as she appears, and flies straight into Thor, lashing out at his wounded arm with her claws, she manages to smack the axe out of his grasp. Eimin remarks that the Celestials’ laws are ironclad and that their judgment is made.
‘Need more time, Steve! Used all of my stinger strength fighting the Sentry!’ the Wasp calls out as she continues to pour her energy into the tachyon dam. The Grim Reaper spins his scythe towards Cap and tells Janet that she missed her chance. ‘It would be so much easier for you if you could see that. And you, Captain America - do you get it now?’ he asks, as his scythe slams into Cap’s shield, and at its speed, knocks Cap’s trusty weapon out of his grasp. ‘Do you feel the futility of your agony and effort? All these years struggling to hold it together - all for nothing’ the Grim Reaper grins, before lunging forward and as Cap screams, the Grim Reaper is drenched in blood - the blood of a hero, as Cap’s body falls to the ground. ‘Steve?’ the horrified Wasp utters, turning back. A pool of blood as has formed around Cap’s lifeless form, as the Grim Reaper stands over him, his scythe covered in blood. ‘He’s gone, sweetheart. Gone like all of your hopes and dreams’.
Eimin tells Thor to take solace, and raising the axe over her head she explains that this is hyper-evolution, survival of the fittest. ‘And you see now - there is none more fit than I!’ She swings the axe and it slams into Thor, knocking him backwards.
Back on Earth, the Hulk, the Vision, Dr Doom and Iron Man are on the ground now, as buildings around them crumble as lava bursts up from the earth. ‘How could we possibly stand against such terrible wrath? Motes screaming into the abyss’ the Vision remarks. Iron Man puts a hand on the Vision’s shoulder and points out that hey held it back for a time, fought as hard as they could. ‘Yes, we did old friend - yet they found us lacking’ the Vision replies, while Exitar’s body is now two-thirds sunken into the Earth. ‘Somehow, in the grand judgment of the cosmos…we have failed’.
Elsewhere in space, Uatu the Watcher observes the catastrophe, and hangs his head as the planet Earth breaks into hundreds of pieces in a fiery orange blur with Exitar at the core of it all. Nearby, Thor looks on, wide-eyed in horror.
Eimin has returned to the Apocalypse Ark, ‘We did it, Uriel. We took everthing from Kang, dear brother. Everything he dreamed of. There is no more Earth to conquer’ she grins wickedly.
Thor spins his hammer, and a portal opens. He flies through it, as the exploding remains of the Earth are blasted towards him and the rubble crashes against the Earth’s moon, with the Apocalypse Ark hovered in nearby.
Asgard-Space, where Thor emerges through the portal, some of the rubble remains of Earth came with him. Thor slowly struggles to gets to his feet, throwing his helmet off. He hangs his head, and covers his face with a hand. ‘No…please no…Earth…all of it…’ his voice trails off. ‘Gone. It was always to be this way, my son’ Odin announces as he appears next to Thor. ‘You warned me, father…the day I enchanted that cursed axe’ Thor remembers. Odin looks down at his son and points out that he merely provided the key to unlock this terrible fate. ‘The denizens, and heroes of Midgard allowed petty differences and petulant squabbling to stand in the way of their own future’ he adds. Odin tells Thor that there is a point in the evolution of any species where they must discard their tribal instincts and unite as one people - one cohesive representative of their world on the cosmic stage.
‘This is the test of all life. To see their world relative to the stars. To finally absorb how meaningless their rage at their brothers and sisters truly is!’ Odin exclaims. ‘You knew… knew this was coming…’ Thor utters. Odin extends a hand to help his son stand up and tells him that if the people of Earth didn’t unite, but he had great expectations that they would. ‘Yet they continue to war over their trifling differences. Combat, their only means of solution. Too savage to be allowed to join the cosmic community… and the Celestials deemed them unworthy for it’. Odin starts to turn away as Thor does not take his father’s hand. ‘As hard as it will be to accept it… the true fault lies with men… Ragnarok was their choice’ Odin adds, before he turns away completely and leaves Thor, kneeling on the barren landscape.